We posed questions to admissions officials at the UCLA School of Law regarding the application process, what they look for in applicants and what sets their school apart. These are their direct responses:
1. What can applicants do to set themselves apart from their peers?
Aside from the standard academic measures (i.e., strong LSAT/undergraduate GPA), what tends to distinguish an applicant from the rest of the pack is a genuine and deliberate interest in our law school, informed by extensive research on our academic/co-curricular programs. We want to see that an applicant has given serious thought to applying to UCLA Law and is able to substantively discuss the potential match between his/her interests and our offerings.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
The essay is the one element in an application over which the candidate has complete control. It serves as an opportunity to convey one's essence as an individual and a prospective law student, and to illuminate aspects of oneself that aren't necessarily captured by other portions of the application. An impressive essay will contain a compelling story, clear and persuasive writing, and an authentic voice. This means that the writer should have taken the time to contemplate and self reflect, prior to beginning the writing process. And as obvious as it may be, thorough proofreading afterward is a must!
3. How important is the applicant's LSAT score? How do you weight it against undergraduate GPA and work experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?
Although the LSAT is a significant factor in the admissions evaluation, it is not considered in a vacuum. We find it more effective and meaningful to evaluate the LSAT in combination with other academic and non-academic variables, such as the undergraduate transcript, letters of recommendation, quality of writing, and academic/professional accomplishments. Moreover, there isn't an exact formula that dictates our evaluation of applications, so it isn't possible to assign specific weights to the various components of an application. Generally speaking, the academic indicators will have greater influence on admission decisions, but our comprehensive review allows other (non-academic) factors to come into play.
4. How much does prior work/internship experience weigh into your decision making? What's the typical or expected amount of work experience from an applicant?
While it is important for us to see that an applicant has been constructively occupied outside of academics, it is difficult for a traditional applicant to "stand out" based on his/her internship or work experiences. (We see these types of experiences on the résumés of most applicants.) In our admission process, we do assess an applicant's potential to make distinctive programmatic contributions to UCLA Law, and in this context, a candidate's compelling discussion of relevant experiences can potentially be beneficial. Work experience is viewed positively in our review process; however, work experience is generally weighed more heavily when an applicant has been out of school for a number of years as opposed to just a year or two.
5. What sets you apart from other schools? What can students gain from your school that they might not be able to find anywhere else?
—Faculty/student interaction: Students have significant opportunities for interactive engagement with faculty who are recognized for their commitment to teaching and genuine interest in their students and renowned for their scholarship and expertise. It is common for first-year students to have lunch with faculty in small groups, and among our most popular upper-level offerings are our Perspective Courses where students attend class over dinner at faculty homes.
—Location: UCLA Law's location in Los Angeles not only offers one of the most diverse cities and best climates in the country, but also places us in the hub of the entertainment industry, and at the forefront of innovation and impact in many of the most critical and complex areas of law affecting the nation and world today: Environmental Law, Immigration, International Law and Human Rights, and more.